Roy Wilhelm is no stranger to these shores. After three visits the Dutch coach continues to find skill here.
Wilhelm was here last week, at the behest of the Cayman Islands Football Association, for the annual Dutch summer football camp. Held at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Wilhelm was joined by a quartet of coaches in Sander Verhoeven, Carsten Ditchfield, Sietze Warniers and Jelle Goudswaard.
Out of the roughly 80 kids that come out during the week, Wilhelm states he was impressed with Matthew Guitard and Zachary Scott.
“Zachary is a real good talent,” Wilhelm said. “Some parts of his tactical awareness needs improvement. Also speed-wise he needs to improve. Zach is a good scorer but he needs to work on things like blocking the ball and defending. But I really liked him. I was looking forward to seeing and working with Sebastian Martinez. Sebastian has got interest from Dutch clubs.”
All of the kids at the camp ranged in age from six to 18. A number of notable football talents were there including Tevin Yen and Jermaine Wilson. Wilhelm, 58, was quick to give a broad assessment of the Cayman kids’ efforts on the field.
“This year we had about 80/90 kids while last year we were around 100. This year we had a lot of younger ones but I wish I had older kids (age 10 and up) to look at. The kids here are nice. I’d say one big difference is that the kids in Europe are more talkative but easier to teach in that they can be leaders on the field.
“Speed is important and control, sending and receiving the ball, is important. As for general technique, heading has been a problem in Cayman in the time I’ve been here. Also crossing needs to improve.”
Wilhelm’s words carry much weight due to his history in football. A youth coach for PSV Eindhoven in Holland, he also works with Dutch clubs MVV Maastricht and Willem II Tilburg. He has helped develop a number of star players throughout his career including Brazil’s Ronaldo and Dutch star Ruud van Nistelrooy.
In addition to all of that experience, Wilhelm has a strong grip on the psychology of the youngsters he deals with due to his background in teaching. The Dutchman says he has a masters degree in teaching and teaches in high school back in Holland.
Wilhelm is quick to give some insight into what it takes to become a professional.
“I’m scouting for three clubs and I could be gone in 15-20 seconds when looking for players. I’ve been with PSV for some 40 years and winning is not important to them. They only want to know what stars I’ve found. The Cayman kids are up against youngsters from Holland, Sweden and Norway just to name a few. Essentially their chances are one in 4,000 they will be signed by a major club.
“Holland is a small country and results are what matter. For the kids here I say you have to develop yourself. Winning and losing is not important. Don’t act like stars, work hard. Kids in America (whom I have worked with in the past) are spoilt and I fear the ones here are following them. The way to the top is long and you have to work hard and go step by step.
“I was in the Bahamas this month and their kids were similar. They are good but they need more tactical awareness. They also have to understand that speed can’t be taught, it’s either you have it or you don’t. But you can’t have impatience. Here seems to be under the influence of America but you have to keep faith in the kids.
“I feel people here and in South America have no patience. They need to be patient when it comes to football. The Dutch style is about hard work, patience and yearly plans. For example it takes three years to be a Dutch coach. These days a lot of English Premier League teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have Dutch coaches in their youth system. That is no coincidence.”
From here Wilhelm is expected to be on vacation in the States along the East Coast. After that he is slated to return to Holland where he will resume his duties there. Wilhelm states eventually he would like to be a permanent presence in Caribbean football.
“I’m half American you know. I’m going to vacation in Miami and then I’ll go to New York City. I go back to work 1 September though I’ll have a break every six weeks. I intend to go to America later this year to scout for talent before going to the Bahamas in December and then heading back to the States.
“I’m thinking about stopping work in Holland on 1 January and maybe doing something in Miami. I still have dreams. I would love to be responsible for youth programmes in the Caribbean and South America. There must be a point of return in terms of talent because countries like the Bahamas have good players.
“People here take time to enjoy life. I love it here. Also my beliefs are central to me. I’m Catholic and when I’m here I go to church at St. Ignatius church. It’s better than the Spanish Catholic churches because I can actually understand what they are saying.”